By { Misty Milioto

On a recent trip to California wine country, a whole new world unfurled with much ado about wine, dining and an overall sense of place. In addition to the rolling hills of vineyards that stretch for miles, this enviable locale is home to incredibly fresh farm-to-table cuisine, welcoming locals and starry nights that are just perfect for enjoying the region’s world-famous cabernet sauvignon. Here’s a look at what’s new in California’s most sought-after wine country destinations.

Where to Stay

If you’re starting out a trip to Napa Valley with a stop in San Francisco, be sure to check out the new Hotel Zoe—a luxury boutique hotel located in Fisherman’s Wharf from Noble House Hotels & Resorts. You can expect to find an elegant and authentic local experience, thanks to the hotel’s multimillion-dollar reimagination inspired by opulent yachts found in exotic ports throughout the Mediterranean. The hotel presents an unrivaled style—designed by Paletteur, a San Francisco-based interior design firm—influenced by the vibrant cultures of San Francisco and other international cities. High-quality craftsmanship is evident in the crisp, clean interior and exterior accentuated with warm wood tones, linear elements and a muted palette. Guest rooms showcase glass framed showers, refined tiled floors, handcrafted stone bathroom vanities with polished chrome hardware and modern artwork. In addition to the sleek interior design, Hotel Zoe features an outdoor courtyard with fireplaces and a 24-foot-tall metal sculpture, “Zoe,” designed by Shawn Man Roland. Inside the main lobby, guests will find Bar Zoe, offering small bites from the on-property modern Italian restaurant Pescatore Restaurant & Bar. Guest rooms from $180, 425 North Point St., San Francisco, 415.561.1100,

Napa Valley’s first Four Seasons Resort & Residences will begin accepting reservations in 2020. The Calistoga-based resort features 85 guest rooms—all with mountain and vineyard views, plus private outdoor spaces. Located near the Petrified Forest, all of the guest rooms include a piece of petrified wood furniture. The decor also includes local touches, including a map of Napa Valley designed by St. Helena-based artist Nick Cann. In addition to an on-site vineyard and tasting space, the property boasts an eight-room spa with steam pods (hammocks are suspended above geothermal pools so guests can absorb the heated vapor). Yes, please! 400 Silverado Trail N., Calistoga, 800.819.5053,

In Calistoga, be sure to book a stay at The Francis House, opened last year. The former family home of prominent local merchant James H. Francis, the landmark building is steeped in history and prestige. Initially built in 1886, The Francis House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Proprietors Dina and Richard Dwyer — she an interior designer and he a real estate developer and general contractor — stumbled upon this unique house in 2015. Over the next three years, the duo carefully restored and redesigned the house, with its gorgeous French Second Empire architecture, preserving its former glory. The inn offers contemporary luxury and, with only five guest rooms, the privacy, comfort and highly personalized service can’t be beat. The rooms exude old-world Parisian elegance, thanks to customized leather headboards, antique desks and brass luggage racks, chandeliers and polished modern amenities such as Toto heated toilets and heated floors. The adults-only inn also features a salon library, a stunning outdoor pool, an infrared sauna and salt room, and bar billiards. Guest rooms from $550, 1403 Myrtle St., Calistoga, 707.341.3536,

Sonoma’s Harmon Guest House, an environmentally friendly hotel by Piazza Hospitality in Healdsburg, which opened in 2018 and features 39 guest rooms—including six Founder’s Suites that feel like you have your own private wing—plus a rooftop terrace with fire pit and bar, a pool, and modern architecture and design by San Francisco-based David Baker Architects. Each guest room features all-glass showers, window nooks for working or dining, a selection of commissioned artwork from emerging California artists, custom Fireclay tiles made in California from recycled materials, cast concrete vanities and tubs by Sonoma Stoneworks, and a private balcony or patio. The palette features warm neutrals—white oak floors, golden yellows, blacks and navy—to make airy rooms that are sophisticated and comfortable. David Baker Architects also designed most of the furniture, including the casework, beds, side tables and window seats. The Rooftop at Harmon Guest House, a sophisticated lounge on the upper level of the hotel, is Healdsburg’s only publicly accessible rooftop bar, and it’s the perfect perch from which to watch the sunset. Guest rooms from $249, 227 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 707.431.8220,

Vista Collina Resort, a Meritage Collection property, opened in 2018 and delivers a new way to discover Napa. Set amid 11 lush acres, the resort features Tuscan-style decor; a Village with nine tasting rooms from local wineries and breweries (including Trinitas Cellars, Jayson by Pahlmeyer and Napa Smith Brewery); a locally sourced, artisanal market; and a spacious community lawn for picnics and private concerts. The 145-room hotel includes 39 suites with fully equipped kitchens just a short drive from downtown Napa. Meanwhile, The Food & Wine Center features an exhibition kitchen where on-site cooking classes are offered with rotating guest chefs and bakers. The on-site Fivetown Grocery offers a taste of the five towns that make up Napa Valley, with options such as housemade pasta and sauces, smoked barbecue and freshly baked bread. While you’re here, be sure to schedule a wine tasting at Jayson by Pahlmeyer. The Jayson Flight ($35) features a selection of the current release Napa Valley and Sonoma Coast wines. The resort also offers a state-of-the-art Fitness Center & Motion Studio, a luxe pool with 10 cabanas and access to the resort’s sister property The Meritage Resort and Spa’s Spa Terra—located in a 22,000-square-foot underground cave. Guest rooms from $400, 850 Bordeaux Way, Napa, 888.965.7090, 

Where to Drink

Bouchaine Vineyards, the oldest continuously operating winery in the Carneros District, recently opened a new Visitor’s Center, renovated its tasting room, expanded its production facilities and added a new 2,100-square-foot outdoor terrace. The new 5,000-square-foot Visitor Center overlooks the historical existing winery building and is designed in a semicircle to maximize the views of the vineyards and surrounding hills. The facade matches the existing buildings that are clad in wood milled from historic redwood tanks. As such, 80-year-old redwood planks from Martini & Prati wine tanks were repurposed into the vertical shade fins on the new building. Cut from one tree, the Tasting Room bar is made from reclaimed solid cypress slabs, and provides an inviting view of the large terrace with Carneros views just beyond. The outdoor terrace, a lovely spot for a relaxed wine tasting, is surrounded by two water features, landscaped gardens, comfortable sofas and armchairs, and multiple fire pits. 1075 Buchli Station Road, Napa, 707.252.9065,

The owners behind Peju Province Winery in Rutherford recently opened the new Calmére Estate Winery and Tasting Room in Carneros. The name Calmére comes from the French words for calm (calme) and sea (mer), reflecting the serene location and views of San Francisco Bay. The winery, located on a 100-acre estate, features design materials like reclaimed wood paneling from an oak tree on the owner’s vineyard. Book a tasting on the deck for panoramic views while enjoying a flight of five wines ($35 per person) and discover the terroir of Carneros. 2750 Las Amigas Road, Napa, 707.302.1160,

The Donum Estate is one of the best wineries in Sonoma County—thanks to its impeccable single-vineyard, single-appellation pinot noir and chardonnay from the Los Carneros, Russian River Valley and Anderson Valley vineyards—but also its extensive sculpture collection. Winemaker Dan Fishman oversees the winery’s prized varietals, inspired by a Burgundian grand cru model. Meanwhile, the sculpture collection at Donum features nearly 40 contemporary outdoor sculptures worth more than $100 million. Artists on view include Ai Weiwei—his art is on their label to honor the Chinese animal zodiac—plus Yayoi Kusama, Tracey Emin, Anselm Kiefer, Mark Manders and others. In 2017, the winery opened Donum Home, a 3,800-square-foot hospitality space for private, personalized tastings, designed by San Francisco-based MH Architects. The estate also just finished construction of its state-of-the-art winemaking facility—also designed by MH Architects—bringing winemaking, grape-growing and hospitality all onto the property. The new production facility is able to produce 12,000 cases of wine, anticipating the future when the estate’s vineyards will reach full production. 24500 Ramal Road, Sonoma, 707.939.2290,

Jamieson Ranch Vineyards, which was founded in 2011, is soon to relocate its tasting room. In the meantime, award-winning winemaker Linda Trotta will continue making the wines. The winery pays homage to the rich ranching tradition of the Napa Valley and American West through its wines: Double Lariat, Light Horse, Reata (the Spanish word for lariat) and Whiplash. The best experience, though, is to book a tasting with the on-site therapy mini horses (call for pricing). 707.254.8673,

Cult label The Prisoner Wine Company opened its first tasting outpost at the end of 2018. With a retro-futuristic feel, the space features salvaged iron and wood. Accents include a life-sized skeleton installation and a diesel tank repurposed as a chandelier. The comfortable space, empty of pomp and circumstance, is full of character and exquisite tasting experiences. Taking an unconventional approach to winemaking, Prisoner works with impassioned growers to source varietals from vineyards and appellations across California to create wine blends that amaze the palate. Try The Line-Up Tasting ($45 per person), featuring four bold wines, or the Makery Experience: Wine & Food Pairing ($125 per person), featuring a selection of limited release wines paired with seasonal bites. 1178 Galleron Road, St. Helena, 877.283.5934,

Where to Eat

Originally home to the Grape Vine Inn—where local farmers and vintners of the 1960s and ’70s gathered for a martini after work—this spot was transformed into Brix Restaurant and Gardens more than 20 years ago. A staple in Napa Valley, the restaurant is the only one with an on-site vineyard in Napa Valley (the Kelleher Family Vineyard), and it has recently undergone a top-to-bottom renovation. Situated on 16 acres, the dining space now spills outside and offers views of the surrounding Mayacamas Mountains. The menu changes daily, but it always spotlights farm-to-table cuisine—including soups, salads, burgers, seafood and housemade pasta—that draws inspiration from the restaurant’s extensive gardens. 7377 St. Helena Hwy., Napa, 707.944.2547,

Thomas Keller, the chef behind the landmark restaurant The French Laundry, has made his first foray into modern Mexican fare with the opening of La Calenda in March 2018. Chef de Cuisine Kaelin Ulrich Trilling creates tacos, tamales and enchiladas with ingredients—now also including a number of traditional Mexican herbs and chiles—sourced from the French Laundry Culinary Garden. La Calenda also works with several Mexican artisans to source its crockery, such as handblown recycled glassware from Oaxacan studio Xaquixe. Try one of the margaritas, made from a selection of more than 30 mezcals and tequilas, or a handcrafted house beer, “El Chefe,” made with local corn. The wine list includes varietals from the Valley of Guadalupe and the Santo Tomás Valley in Mexico. 6518 Washington St., Yountville, 833.682.8226,

A new indoor/outdoor wine, dining and design concept by Restoration Hardware dubbed RH Yountville opened in late 2018 in the heart of Napa Valley. The compound consists of five contemporary yet classically inspired structures: the indoor/outdoor restaurant surrounded by 100-year-old olive trees and featuring glittering rococo crystal chandeliers, fountains and a soaring glass roof; the historic masonry building (now a two-story wine vault); the trellis-covered outdoor living rooms; a barista bar; and a boutique design gallery showcasing artistic installations of RH Interiors and RH Modern Collections. 6725 Washington St., Yountville, 707.339.4654,

What to Do

Napa Valley’s first wine history museum and tasting salon opened this past summer in a landmark Victorian home, named 1881 after the year the home was built. The museum features a collection of winemaking artifacts, such as decanters, vineyard tools and labels from the 18th and 19th centuries. A 240-square-foot wallpapered map of Napa Valley from 1895 covers the ceiling, anchored by a 48-light Baccarat crystal chandelier. Visitors can explore photos and stories to learn about all 16 subappellations of Napa Valley and the pioneers who first settled and planted grapes in Napa. Tasting experiences are also offered, with a sampling of wines from the coldest growing regions in Napa paired with wines from significantly warmer areas. 7856 St. Helena Hwy., Oakville, 707.948.6099,

Carneros Resort and Spa recently completed a $3.5 million renovation of its 5,919-square-foot spa, which includes a new entrance, guest reception and retail space, an expanded relaxation area, and newly-designed treatment rooms and suites. The new space features nine indoor treatment rooms, including a new couple’s suite and a studio suite, while the reimagined spa menu includes new treatments, such as the Body Botany massage (90 minutes for $270). 4048 Sonoma Hwy., Napa, 707.299.4900,

The Culinary Institute of America at Copia is a newly opened epicurean destination in downtown Napa. Here, guests can take hands-on cooking classes, attend informative wine tasting seminars and participate in private wine tasting experiences. CIA at Copia also offers several dining outlets, an upscale lifestyle store, a one-of-a-kind museum and more. The new food hall offers everything from wood-fired pizzas and dim sum to gourmet cheeses and charcuterie. Classes (prices vary) range from hourlong chef demonstrations and lectures to two-hour wine tastings, and food and wine pairing exercises. Be sure to also try the tastings and wine-and-food pairings at the K. LAZ’s tasting room, featuring customized experiences designed by Kerrin Laz, former wine director of Dean & DeLuca ($90-$350 per person). 500 First St., Napa, 707.967.2500, 

The Napa Valley Wine Train is a must-do when visiting wine country. The three-hour, 36-mile roundtrip journey departs from McKinstry Street Station in downtown Napa to St. Helena and back, taking visitors right through the heart of Napa Valley. The train stops at a number of wineries, including Castello Di Amorosa, Domaine Chandon, Hall and Turnbull. The views along the way include rolling vineyards through the charming towns of Oak Knoll, Yountville, Oakville and Rutherford. For the best bet, book a dining journey (prices vary), complete with a gourmet meal onboard the train. 1275 McKinstry St., Napa, 800.427.4124,